Hooniverse Asks: Moonroof or no Moonroof?

Do you remember back when you were a kid and you rode the big yellow bus to school? There were two holes in the roof—emergency exits in case the bus flipped on its side making the regular door inaccessible. If you’re anything like me—and I’m expecting you are—you no doubt imagined the bus doing just that and you wiggling your way out that alternate exit.
A car’s moonroof serves a far different purpose. In its case you might want to use the moonroof for other things, like maybe looking at the moon. You might like to enjoy the breeze through your hair—but not too much breeze! Additionally, you might like to have the sun on your shoulder—but not too much sun! Or maybe you like to have a hole in the roof of your car that you never open but will eventually leak like Victoria Falls every time it rains. Yeah, they sometimes do that too.
Moonroofs have their fans and their detractors—count me among the latter—and what we want to know today is which side of the glass you stand. Do you like your cars with or without a moonroof?
Image: AutosofDallas

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51 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Moonroof or no Moonroof?”

  1. tonyola Avatar

    Definitely a moonroof as long as it doesn’t leak. I live in Miami – enough said.

  2. neight428 Avatar

    Where I live, if it is not pushing 100 degrees out, it’s probably going to rain. In such situations, a moon roof either turns your car into a greenhouse (good for some, I suppose) or adds another weatherstripping point of failure (not a problem for a new car, usually). It wouldn’t scare me off of a car that was otherwise very desirable, but I wouldn’t ever pick one on my own if I had the choice.

  3. Kiefmo Avatar

    I love them. My Merc has a sunroof and I wish it was a glass panel so badly, because I love the sunlight even if the weather doesn’t abide having it open.
    The new Pilot has a moonroof, but the missus hates them, so I only get to enjoy it when she’s not in the car.

  4. GTXcellent Avatar

    There’s a reason we ordered the SS sans hole in the roof – and it ain’t because of thriftiness.
    We might have a handful of days each year that it isn’t too cold, or too hot, or snowing. We live on a dusty gravel road, and then drive 60+ mph on rural highways. We have no use for a moonroof.

    1. JayP Avatar

      I was talked in to a sunroof when I ordered my A4. Salesman said it may take longer for the order to go through as they will likely need to wait for the “rare” solid roof panels. That may be right but plenty of A4s in europe didn’t have sunroofs.
      He also said resale would be higher and probably repay itself when I trade.
      There were a few guys who ordered no sunroof cars. Dealers always added them to their spec sheet for the lot cars.

  5. P161911 Avatar

    On all but the tallest cars, a moonroof steals 2-3″ of valuable headroom. At 6’1″,with a long torso and short legs, I usually need all the headroom that I can get. With that being said, Mrs. P161911 likes a moonroof. When we were looking to get our Trailblazer it was almost an impossible combination to find a moonroof and cloth seats.

    1. Windbüchse Avatar

      And the headroom loss seems to always be on the left side of my pate (6’5″ here), craning my head to the right… Although, I once found one useful. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c7d43cf8a3b637487ffb9c2673cafa76685138222e2f5e8b8abf6f5effa5ef4a.jpg

      1. hogymástnemondjak Avatar

        headroof 🙂

  6. SawdustTX Avatar

    Absolutely love my moonroof (although I possibly incorrectly call it a sunroof?). Open it often and even when not open I like the light coming in. When it’s just a little too warm inside on a cool, I can get some nice, quiet, gentle cross flow by cracking the sunroof and one window. Other times, the kid in me just likes to put my hand up in the wind on the highway. And when it’s pouring rain and I’m stuck in Houston traffic not moving, love to just watch the rain hit the glass. It’s part of my joy of motoring.
    And regarding that escape hatch. I was T-boned by a construction truck while driving my 1996 Buick Roadmaster. Knocked me off the road into a huge pile of construction sand so the right doors wouldn’t open. Frame was bent so bad the doors on the left side wouldn’t open. Left windows shattered so I didn’t want to climb through glass shards. So I climbed out the sunroof. Not that it was urgent – no fire or anything – but I didn’t have to sit there until they towed the car out of the sand pile.

    1. Batshitbox Avatar

      I don’t think there’s a clear difference in terms “Moonroof” and “Sunroof”.

      1. Fred Talmadge Avatar
        Fred Talmadge

        Sunroofs are solid and moonroofs are glass.

        1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

          Not in Europe. Glass roof panels have always been sunroofs.

          1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

            What do you guys know? You can’t even keep the driver’s seat and and passenger seat straight.

  7. Maymar Avatar

    I had a janky old Cavalier with a sunroof, and it still never leaked on me, so I’m prone to trust them. More interior light and a different source of ventilation are worth it.
    Incidentally, the sunroof was good to have on the Cavalier. The blower motor resistor in them were prone to wearing out at certain speeds – in mine, it was full blast or nothing. But, venting the roof pulled air through the vents at a more reasonable rate, at least until I fixed the thing (it took a lot of swearing and under-dash acrobatics).

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      The sunroof on my 36-yo Merc doesn’t leak, either.
      And I feel now that I’ve put it out into the universe, it’s bound to leak next time it rains.

    2. SawdustTX Avatar

      I’ve had sunroofs in Lexus, Cadillac, and Buick. None ever leaked.

    3. Joe Avatar

      Never had any sunroof/moonroof leak or break down. As for the targa top on my ’91 Corvette well that’s another story…

  8. Lokki Avatar

    I’m a fan. Here in Dallas, most of the time it’s way too hot to open the roof fully, but tipping it open is the best and quietest way to vent out the heat that builds up in the summer. As the a/c kicks in, the hot air in the car rises and escapes via the tilted moonroof. I also tend to believe that when blasting the defroster in winter tilting the roof open increases the flow through the car and hence across the windshield,
    Noting that I damn near failed my physics course, I could be wrong about the science here, so let’s just call these strongly held beliefs and let it go at that.
    Edit: I DO believe in “The Big Bang Theory”, but then so would anyone who has delayed changing an old timing belt just a little too long…

  9. Citric Avatar

    Go to a big, remote field with your lover, recline the seats and look at the stars with a nice soundtrack in the background, then you might appreciate a moonroof more.

    1. GTXcellent Avatar

      That’s what a pickup bed is for.

      1. Citric Avatar

        Right now the temperature is -30C where I live, so a pickup bed isn’t a viable option all year.

      2. Joe Avatar

        Only for wannabe cowboy posers

        1. GTXcellent Avatar

          I’m confused. Are you bad-mouthing guys who lay down in a pickup box with a girl or just truck owners in general?
          If it’s the former, well, 20 years ago this cute little blonde and I had a very memorable night watching the northern lights on a blanket in the back of my ’88 Silverado. I’d say that worked out ok.
          If it’s the latter, can I ask you a question? So if a truck is only for ‘wannabe cowboy posers’ what would be a better vehicular choice for hauling a portable fish house, auger, and all other ice-fishing provisions out on the lake? How about a deer carcass? What’s the towing capacity of say a Porsche 911? Because my car trailer weighs a tick over 3000 lbs empty, let alone piled with a load of lumber, or a roll of carpet, or a car, or a tractor. Can I carry 3 kayaks on the roof of a Miata? When I haul garbage to the transfer station, how much plastic should I put down in the hatch of a Corvette so I don’t stain the carpet?

          1. Maymar Avatar

            Pickups are frequently excellent, wonderful things, but the bro country association is a little difficult for some of us.

  10. Alff Avatar

    Like ’em, but apparently not a whole lot as there isn’t one in any of our seven cars. The two convertibles satisfy the need for wind-in-the-hair motoring.

  11. Douche_McGee Avatar

    Depends on the car, but more often than not I would say Yes.
    On the FiST, due to the curve of the roof the sunroof is behind my head, so I didn’t get one. Pic for reference

  12. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    Here in Houston, I only open it to let out the heat. After a minute I close it and pull the shade. So not a necessity and if I had a choice I wouldn’t pay extra for it.

  13. 0A5599 Avatar

    Most of the leaks are caused by the drain tubes getting clogged. Usually an easy, no-cost fix.
    I’m a big fan of moonroofs in the summertime. Except in convertibles.

    1. JayP Avatar

      My pal borrowed my Ranger for a weekend, he let me have his Jetta.
      The drive has an incline so the VW was parked slightly nose down. Came out after a night of rain and there was 3-4″ of rain in the footwells.
      Talked with my pal about it, said he parked it in his level drive.
      The front drains were clogged… the rear was able to handle the flow in any case.
      What a mess that was.

  14. needthatcar Avatar

    Hate all sunroofs/moonroofs/t-tops/targa tops, full stop. They are the dumbest automotive feature in existence. They leak, they creak, they look dumb (unless you have a Smokey and the Bandit mustache), and I would argue that they are dangerous. As the car changes direction, direct sunlight alternately shines right in the driver’s eyes and can cause distraction or lack of visibility.
    The real reason I hate them is I’m 6’5″ and they take away 1-4″ of headroom – valuable valuable headroom.

    1. Joe Avatar

      None of those reasons are valid at all. Except *maybe* the height issue. Maybe.

  15. Matthew Tirabassi Avatar
    Matthew Tirabassi

    Love a sunroof. I have heard some very (for me) expensive repair costs to reseal panoramic style moonroofs. Not that I’m in the market, because why make the snipers job any easier?

  16. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    In general, I like ‘em. It was invaluable in the Fiero that I had. There was one intersection on my daily commute where if I pulled up to the line, I could not see the traffic signal through the windshield without leaning way forward… but I could see it through the moon roof. It is also an important feature in the Trollblazer, but for a very different reason. The windows won’t roll up right at highway speeds. The pressure differential pulls the window out enough to catch on the weatherstripping… but if I crack open the sunroof, the window rolls up fine.
    I occasionally wish that the GTO came with a sunroof/moonroof.
    A moon roof in the Astra would be nice while it is my daily driver, but when it inevitably becomes a LeMons car, I will be thankful that it doesn’t have a giant hole in the roof to patch.

  17. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    I was a solidtop guy until I happened to buy a car that had one. Don’t use it too often, but when I do, it’s great. So, now — yes, yes, yes.

  18. Professor Lavahot Avatar
    Professor Lavahot

    A needless extravagance of the bourgeois!
    First you want a roof, then you want a sunroof?

  19. stigshift Avatar

    I will always have one if I can. My current Accord took me nearly a month to find, used, because I would only accept a cloth interior EX with a 5 speed. Nearly impossible to find in Tampa Bay. With 188k on it, it does not leak at all. In the summer during the day is the only time it’s closed along with the sunshade. My other car is a ’90 Miata. It never gets driven with the top up. Hey, I live in The Sunshine State, right? The only car I ever had with a leaky sunroof was my ’86 Olds Custom Cruiser wagon, which only leaked when it rained. Or when I washed the car. Or whenever the roof got wet. Real fun if I had forgotten that it rained and hadn’t driven the car in a few days. Water would well up in the sunroof tray. And then I’d hit the brakes… Still worth it for having a sliding roof on a big American wagon!

  20. Tiller188 Avatar

    No moonroof. Extra electrical and mechanical complexity (read: stuff that can break), reduced structural rigidity (maybe), reduced headroom (I have had to cant my head to one side more times than I care to remember when “trying on” new cars with moonroofs at car shows), all of that at the highest possible point on the car for maximum CG effect (OK, admittedly that’s splitting hairs), and all for a benefit I don’t really care about. I have the base model version of my car precisely because any other trim level would have added a moonroof (pity, I would’ve kinda liked one or two of the other upgrades…)

    1. Joe Avatar

      None of those issues are valid reasons for 99% of people.

      1. Tiller188 Avatar

        Well would ya look at that, I’m a 1-percenter!

    2. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Except that my ’86 Citroen BX has a big glass moonroof that still works and doesn’t leak and hasn’t rusted. If 1980s Citroen body build quality can make them work, then surely there’s no excuse about reliability that anybody else can use?

      1. Maymar Avatar

        Either that, or we just figured out what they put their best engineers on.

        1. Rover 1 Avatar
          Rover 1

          Sunroofs and suspension. Sounds about right.

          1. Fred Talmadge Avatar
            Fred Talmadge


      2. Tiller188 Avatar

        Fair point — really, my inclusion of the leaking and reliability concerns is due more to my own paranoia than any basis in reality (well, that and a desire to have more reasons than simply “I’m too tall”). I got a good chuckle out of Maymar’s counterpoint, though.

  21. JohnComposMentis Avatar

    A moonroof is pretty much mandatory for my next vehicle. None was offered when I bought my current 2011 Honda Fit, and I’ve missed having one for quick ventilation of a hot car, draft-free ventilation when tilted up and the AC is not needed, the light airy feeling when closed on cloudy days, and some sense of open-air driving without the expense and security issues of a convertible. The roofs I don’t understand are the panoramic glass ones that don’t open at all, as on (IIRC) the LR Evoque and probably others.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      Obviously Photoshopped. If you’d wanted to make us believe that’s a British sky, you should have thought to put some clouds in it. The solid blue fill was just lazy.

  22. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    In the Pacific Northwest these are more properly called an overcast roof. I last had a car with a sunroof in 1997 and I don’t miss it (steel sliding roof with minor water leakage issues). I’d rather have an actual convertible for the nice days and a roof without extra leakage points for the rain.

  23. spotarama Avatar

    my sister used to have a mid 70s Audi 100GL (5 cyl motor? but I could be mistaken) that had a solid panel sunroof (as they are called down here in Australia) rather than being electrically operated it had a little crank lever that would swing down from near the rear view mirror and you’d wind the panel back into the roof, always had me entranced, great toy for passengers to play with.
    mind you given the electrical horribleness of the rest of the car its prob just as well it was mechanical.
    it was so unreliable that her husband took it away one day and brought her home a 1970 V8 HG Holden Premier, when that proved to cost more in petrol than the audi did in repairs, he took that away and brought her home a Hillman hunter, they divorced soon after that………she gave me the Hillman, I drove it until the leaking brakes ran out of fluid and gave it away too (yes I could have refilled the brakes IF the hood had opened to allow access to such things) as an adjunct to the general nastiness of the Hillman, it had retreaded Turkish tyres…not a lot of grip there then.
    my over-riding memories of that audi are mostly being ferried around with a broken leg, lay the passenger seat down flat and slide in, try and stay sitting upright during acceleration and braking.

  24. spotarama Avatar

    just remembered, also in Australia only (possibly) a moon roof was what we called those round (heart shaped, diamond etc) plastic bubbles that vanners used in the sides, but if you put them in the roof of the car they become a moonroof

  25. Zentropy Avatar

    I try to buy cars without moonroofs, but the manual sunroof on my ’87 325 was pretty reliable.

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